Friday, April 1, 2016

All the Books I Read in March

One of my friends suggested that "a really cool April Fool's joke" would be saying I didn't read any books in March.

"Because, you know, you write that list of books you read, and people would be like, 'Joel didn't read anything!' and then you could be like, 'April Fool's!'"

Two things:

1) Past a certain age, I don't think April Fool's is funny any more. Mostly it's just mean spirited and annoying. For the record, I believe it stops being funny for anyone after the age of 18, but your mileage may vary.

2) Nobody who knows me is going to believe that I went a whole month without reading any books.

With that said, I did read some books in March! More than I read in February, so go me!

1) Claudia Gray's Ten Thousand Skies Above You returns us to the dimension-hopping world of A Thousand Pieces of You. A few months have gone by since Marguerite rescued her scientist father, who helped perfect interdimensional travel, from an enemy from another universe. Unfortunately, the aftermath of those events leads Paul, her boyfriend and her parents' assistant, to journey into parallel dimensions again to find a cure for his best friend Theo, who was poisoned by their enemy, Wyatt Conley. When Paul doesn't return, Marguerite and Paul attempt to rescue him but discover that he is splintered, his essence scattered into several of his parallel selves by Conley. Now, Marguerite is forced to work with the enemy to save Paul, traveling to worlds at war, on the brink of disaster, and returning to ones she visited in the past. Through it all she wonders if she can save Paul and Theo, if it will be worth the price, and if her own world will survive.

I liked this, but the first book was self-contained, and this one ends right on a cliffhanger. It's a good cliffhanger, but still a cliffhanger, and I get annoyed by those if the next book is not immediately available.

2) About 20 pages into The Melody Lingers On, I realized that it's a Lifetime movie. All Mary Higgins Clark books are. Don't get me wrong, because you know I love me some Lifetime movies, but let's just call this like it is. There's always a beautiful single woman, menaced by forces beyond her control. There are often children involved, and usually a death or two along the way. The beautiful single woman might also fall in love, but she might not be able to trust the man she's falling in love with, because he may or may not be connected to the danger she's in. In the end, the particulars don't really matter, because they're all the same book. Entertaining, but forgettable.

3) In Kill The Boy Band The Ruperts, assembled on a British reality TV show, are the biggest boy band in the world, and the narrator and her friends, a quartet of teenage fangirls, just wanted to meet them. That was the whole plan, but somehow they ended up with Rupert P., the most useless Rupert, tied to a chair in their hotel room. Now, with the hotel surrounded by Rupert fangirls, the rest of the Ruperts roaming the halls, the hotel bar crowded with Rupert celebrity girlfriends, and the police closing in, the friendships are unraveling, the secrets are spilling out, and the girls aren't sure if they love the Ruperts or if they hate them. All they do know is that they have to figure it out fast, because time is running out and oh, by the way, someone just murdered Rupert P. while he was tied up in their room.

This was darkly funny, but there are definitely things in here that could offend people, and I laughed way more times than I should have at fat-shaming, homophobia, misogyny, and other things that I know aren't supposed to be funny.

4) Truman Capote never intended to publish Summer Crossing, but when the manuscript was found in a set of papers in 2005, his estate decided to go ahead and publish it anyway. The story of 17 year old Grady McNeil, whose parents leave her for the summer in their Manhattan townhouse while they travel to Europe for the summer, is interesting, but I feel like Capote would have gone back and added to what is basically the bare bones of a novel had he intended this for release.

5) I don't usually read Meg Cabot but someone in one of my job-related Facebook groups mentioned Size 12 Is Not Fat because the protagonist, Heather Wells, is an assistant hall director. Wells, a former teen pop star, was dropped by her record company and then had her money stolen by her momager, and ends up as an assistant hall director to pay her college tuition while she copes with loss through eating. She also has to cope with the sudden death of two students in her residence hall, both of whom were sweet young girls with a mysterious new boyfriend, and both of whom plunge down the elevator shaft to their deaths. Is a killer stalking the halls, or were the girls casualties of freshman elevator surfing? Is Heather in danger for investigating, or is everyone right that she just misses attention? And why does her boyband member ex keep showing up to talk to her?

Some of this is very accurate. Anyone who ever worked in a housing or residence life job has had to deal with replacing a popular supervisor who hired all your student staff, listening to the constant refrains of "Justine never made us do that" or "Justine always let us". On the other hand, the constant correction of "Ooops, I said dorm when I meant residence hall" by the narrator (it felt like she said it twenty times in the first twenty pages) gets old and grating pretty quickly. As for the rest, I'm not sure if I'll pick up the other books in the series. Some of this was interesting, but some of it was pretty tedious.

6) Hey, speaking of Lifetime movies, I enjoyed the Lifetime miniseries (which turns out to have been a BBC miniseries that Lifetime got the rights to air in the US) of And Then There Were None so much that I decided to read the book, to compare them. It turns out that the miniseries was really well done and followed the book pretty closely, but the book left the crimes that the ten people were accused of a little more ambiguous in some cases. For those who didn't see it or read the book, eight people are invited to a dinner party on an isolated island, but they arrive at the large house to find two servants and no host. During dinner, a mysterious voice booms into the dining room, accusing each of them of murder. After dinner, they immediately start to die, one by one. Is the killer one of them, or the mysterious Mr. Owen who invited them? And can they escape before the killer comes for them, too? This was a very good read, and makes me want to read more Agatha Christie, which I somehow never have.

Amusing side note: I bought an older, used copy, which was published under the title Ten Little Indians. I made a joke about it on Twitter, and then my friend Jackie informed me that the original published title was even more offensive.

I guess that's our lesson in book history for the day.


Justin Bower said...

I was wondering about that Capote book. It would be interesting to compare that to Lee's Watchman...two posthumous, somewhat unfinished works by overlapping writers.

Mrs. Splapthing said...

Here's 3 books you a) will never have read before and b) will never read anything similar to again.

1) The screenplay to "Withnail & I" - you can find it on ebay, fairly inexpensively. I know, I know, it's a screenplay, but it was written as a book first, and reads wonderfully well.

2) "The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman" - impossible to describe, you just have to dive in. Made me laugh out loud (at work) in parts.

3) "Paranoia in the Launderette" - Extremely short book (you can read it in about 20 minutes) - extremely funny, in a dark way. Best way to describe it is "one of those days."

All 3 books are written by the brilliant Bruce Robinson.